Understanding Emulsifiers and Their Role in Your Health

Over the past 50 years there have been many advances in food technology, some advances have been key in securing food safety and ensuring we can eat food without the risk  of microbiological contamination. However, there are some food additives developed which I disagree with. They’re added to processed food for a variety of reasons but essentially they’re not real food and I believe as consumers we should be able to say “no” to them.

One of these is emulsifiers. Their key role is to combine ingredients high in oil and fats together with ingredients with a high water content and hold them together in processed packaged food for months and years on end. In large processed food organisations there is a direct correlation between the shelf life of a product and the profitability of that line. Meaning that if a company can add emulsifiers and other additives to extend the shelf life of a product, they can make more money. 

I can hand on heart say that’s not KOJA.  My primary motivation at KOJA is not to make money. Yes, of course for a business to be sustainable I need to operate at a profit but I can genuinely say that my motivation for creating KOJA and all our products is to create a range of food that’s better than anything else available in the market. Food that is nourishing, satisfying, tastes good and is made with minimal processing and no food additives.

So what’s the problem with emulsifiers? New studies have shown that emulsifiers can cause inflammation in the gut and intestines. Inflammation can increase our risk of heart disease, obesity, arthritis and a long list of other chronic health problems. Another study linked poor gut health with an increased risk of anxiety and depression. It’s also been recommended that anyone with symptoms of IBS or IBD should consider their food additive intake. 

But here at KOJA we’re realistic, in real life it’s challenging to completely eliminate emulsifiers from your diet. However, I am a big believer that knowledge is power and if you know what emulsifiers are, you can make a better choice. When choosing a healthy snack, a chocolate treat or a wholemeal wrap for your kids lunch box you can usually find a brand without emulsifiers if you read the ingredients. 

Ingredients to look out for:

Sunflower lecithin 

Soy lecithin

Guar gum 




Did you know there are also products commonly considered ‘healthy’ that can also include emulsifiers?

Plant based milk - If you order almond milk, oat milk or soy milk in cafes it’ll probably contain emulsifiers. I personally love Pure Harvest, as an option free from emulsifiers, or homemade options. 

Dark chocolate - most brands contain emulsifiers! I recommend Green & Blacks or Loving Earth organic chocolate as it is free of emulsifiers.

Wholemeal wraps - most supermarket wraps generally include more additives than just emulsifiers. There’s Mountain Bread wraps which are a great natural option.

Another health benefit of avoiding emulsifiers is that they are only found in processed food, so by cutting down on emulsifiers you’ll also be reducing your processed food intake, therefore most likely reducing your intake of sugar, salt and other nasties.

At KOJA we are on a real food mission and believe that making small changes to your food choices can make a big difference to how you feel. It’s all in our tagline, Real Food, Feel Better. All KOJA bars and products are food additive free, making us the easy choice when it comes to snack time.


Kate xx